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Michael Phelan
Michael Phelan
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Industry Foxes Guarding the Regulatory Chicken Coops

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The Bush Administration has placed so many of its industry cronies in charge of federal regulatory agencies that one has to wonder whether there is an agency out there that is being run by someone who isn’t trying to undermine that agency’s mission. Edwin Foulke was South Carolina’s Republican Party Chairman, and an anti-union, anti-regulatory zealot who was well-know for his efforts to weaken the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Guess who President Bush appointed last year to run OSHA? Here is an example of the unsafe work conditions that OSHA now fails to regulate.

Workers at microwave popcorn factories apparently regularly inhale a butter-flavor additive called diacetyl. The result is that these workers suffer a high incidence of a life-threatening lung disease and require lung transplants. OSHA refuses to mandate safety standards, define safe limits for diacetyl, or set up plant inspections. Mr. Foulke’s position is that these industries should regulate themselves. Anti regulatory industry insiders are or have also been in charge of the EPA, Consumer Product Safety Commission, the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control, and other federal regulatory agencies. In a related story about trucking accidents, blogger David P. Lowe, an attorney in Milwaukee, writes about how political contributions from the trucking industry have discouraged trucking regulations. Enough is enough.